Smartphone or App War?

The large number of applications does at first glance seem like a pretty good reason to claim iPhone’s eventual domination of what arguably is the next, major computing platform. However, the number of applications is no surefire measure of iPhone’s or any other platform’s success. Applications are but one — and not the most important — platform characteristic. Successful platforms share five common traits:

  • There are good development tools and APIs for easily making good applications
  • There is at least one killer application people really want
  • There is breadth of useful applications
  • Third parties make lots of money
  • There is a robust ecosystem

While this piece is about Android eventually surpassing the iPhone, I felt this was a nice description about what make “successful platforms.”

Joe Wilcox, the author, goes on talk about point #4 and seems to indicate that is going to be the place that helps Android win, with the number of handsets that will be on the market.

I generally agree with that thinking, as it’s logical. But as Blackberry users show, not all consumers are “app centric.” What I mean by that is that there’s a chance that the general audience and the onslaught of Android users might not care as much about apps. They also won’t have a tool called iTunes, which is place that a less technical person is very familiar with and acts as huge storefront for pushing out apps.

In addition, right now iPhone developers, at least some of them (ok, the select few) are making money. While I can see the less satisfied ones shift focus and try for a different gold rush, it will be harder to convince the top developers that they need to be on Android.

So, will the iPhone win the smartphone war? Maybe not. But there’s another question….who is going to win the “app war”? That’s a much more interesting and less conclusive one…at least in the next 3-4 years.